Headaches are often
caused by disorders of the neck or physical and emotional tension.
Physiotherapists can successfully treat most headaches and show you
how to prevent the pain recurring.
|Is Your Headache
Really a Neck Ache?
For many people, feelings of pain and tension
start at the top of the neck. As the pain worsens, it may spread to
the back of the head, the temples, forehead or behind the eyes.
Moving the neck or bending forward for a long time tends to make it
This happens because the nerves in the upper part of
your neck are connected to the nerves in your head and face. A
disorder of the upper neck joints or muscles can cause referred pain
to your head.
Any of the following points suggest that your
neck may be causing the headache:
||Headache associated with neck pain. Does the pain
radiate from the back to the front of your head?
||Headache with dizziness or light-headedness.
||Headache brought on or worsened by neck movement or
staying in the same position for a long time.
||Headache which always feels worse on the same side
of your head.
||Headache eased by pressure to the base of the
||Headache which persists after your doctor has
checked for other causes.
Headache can be
caused by a tense posture. You may be hunching your shoulders
without realising it.
A disorder of the
upper neck joints or muscles can cause referred pain to your
|Headaches from Other Causes
Emotional tension and anxiety can cause the muscles at the
base of the head and jaw to become very tight, irritating the nerves
and restricting blood flow. This produces a headache.
migraine, allergic reactions or other causes are suspected, your
physiotherapist will recommend that you see a medical practitioner.
Here is some useful advice to help you prevent headaches:
Think tall: chest lifted, shoulders relaxed,
chin tucked in and head level. Your neck should feel strong,
straight and relaxed.
Avoid working with your
head down for long periods. Stretch and change position frequently.
A down pillow or urethane moulded pillow is
best for most people. Talk to your physiotherapist.
Keep your neck joints and muscles flexible and
strong with correct neck exercises. Your physiotherapist can show
Recognise when you are tense. You may be
hunching your shoulders or clenching your teeth without realising
Physiotherapists are experts in posture and
human movement. They will be able to determine if your neck is
causing the headaches. Physiotherapists may
Your physiotherapist can also offer you self-help advice
on ways to correct the cause of headaches, such as practical tips
for work and in the home, adjusting furniture, relaxation and
||Postural assessment, correction and advice
||Laser, ultrasound, electrotherapy and heat
Physiotherapists use a range of techniques to treat neck
be an effective treatment for headache caused by neck problems. In
some situations, it may do more harm than good. Your physiotherapist
will carefully check your neck before manipulating it to see if
other methods, such as mobilisation would be
A doctor's referral is not required to see a
physiotherapist in private practice. Physiotherapists in private
practice are listed in the Yellow Pages under 'Physiotherapists'.
Physiotherapists also work in public hospitals and community health
A proportion of treatment costs is rebatable under
all higher table health insurance schemes.
|By courtesy of the Australian Physiotherapy Association